NC Rural Counties Struggle With Education Challenges & Population Decline

NC Rural Counties Struggle With Education Challenges & Population Decline

7:45am Aug 15, 2014
Students who live in rural communities often lack access to programs found in urban areas. Even when these services are available, transportation issues prevent students from getting the services they need the most. According to Communities In Schools of North Carolina, as a result, fewer than 7-in-10 rural students graduate from high school in the Tar Heel state.
by: Bindaas Madhavi via flickr

For all the challenges that cities such as Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point face in generating new jobs and training a skilled workforce, those same challenges in the Triad's rural communities are even harder. 

The Triad Business Journal conducts panel discussions in rural communities around the region to highlight how local leaders are responding. WFDD contributor Justin Catanoso moderates those discussions for the Triad Business Journal.

“Several rural counties have seen young people leave the area and a decline in population. This is the same problem that bigger cities in the Triad face, even though they have more opportunities,” says Catanoso.

He says, “Some of these areas have lost their unskilled labor base. We have also seen the Hispanic population is growing in the state’s rural areas. The decline in population raises the question as we talk to folks who run companies and businesses about the role of new immigrants coming in to these areas. Could they be a rock to rebuilding population in these communities? It’s an interesting question that is being raised by some people in the region.”

According to Catanoso, education is a reoccurring theme at these panel discussion meetings. “Rural school districts usually see higher poverty and unemployment rates. In Montgomery County, the community college and the public school superintendent are cooperating on a variety of programs, including apprenticeship programs, advanced training classes and having high school students take classes at the community college to help upgrade the counties workforce,” says Catanoso.

Justin Catanoso is director of the Journalism program at Wake Forest University and a regular contributor to 88.5 WFDD. More breaking business news from the region is available in the Triad Business Journal online at

Follow Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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